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A free-market view on accidents and torts


  • Colombatto, Enrico


This paper analyzes the role of uncertain costs and liability in the free market context and compares it with Calabresi’s approach. Contrary to the mainstream literature, the free-market view claims that property rights should not be tampered with, that the tort-feasor should always be held liable and that the presence of unknown costs (accidents) makes no difference. In particular, bad luck is not enough to justify a claim on society. It is observed that Calabresi reaches the same conclusions as far as non-accidental costs are concerned, but tends to diverge from the free-market position in the presence of accidents. These views are illustrated by examining the respondeat superior doctrine and their implications are further developed by considering the case for unlimited liability.

Suggested Citation

  • Colombatto, Enrico, 2013. "A free-market view on accidents and torts," IEL Working Papers 16, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:uca:ucaiel:16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Malerba, Franco, 2002. "Sectoral systems of innovation and production," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 247-264, February.
    2. Nicita Antonio & Ramello Giovanni B., 2007. "Property, Liability and Market Power: The Antitrust Side of Copyright," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(3), pages 767-791, December.
    3. Migheli, Matteo & Ramello, Giovanni B., 2014. "Open Access Journals & Academics' Behaviour," IEL Working Papers 18, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    4. Posner, Richard A, 1997. "Social Norms and the Law: An Economic Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 365-369, May.
    5. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-131, March.
    6. Giovanni B. Ramello, 2005. "Property rights, firm boundaries, and the republic of science--A note on Ashish Arora and Robert Merges," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(6), pages 1195-1204, December.
    7. Piero Cavaleri & Michael Keren & Giovanni B. Ramello & Vittorio Valli, 2009. "Publishing an E-Journal on a Shoe String: Is It a Sustainable Project?," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 89-101, March.
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    More about this item


    accidents; respondeat superior; unlimited liability; social responsibility;

    JEL classification:

    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics

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